Tuesday

19th Mar 2019

Far-right formally established in European parliament

The far-right caucus in the European Parliament was officially launched yesterday with anti-immigration and a defence of "Christian values" to form the backbone of its political platform.

With 20 members – just reaching the threshold for formation laid down by parliament rules – the Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty (ITS) group was established amid jeers and shouts in Strasbourg on Monday.

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Claiming to represent some 23 million Europeans, "who would not be represented without us", the group's leader Bruno Gollnisch added "We are in favour of upholding European identity, the identities of our individual countries. We want to uphold European tradition and yet remain modern."

The caucus, which was established after its numbers were given a boost by right-wing deputies from Bulgaria and Romania, will be entitled to a budget of up to €1 million from the parliament coffers.

However, it is expected to be marginalized by other political groups in the European Parliament with socialist leader Martin Schulz arguing just before it was set up that it should not be allowed, because it did not meet a fundamental requirement of "shared political affinity."

"We must not abandon this Parliament, which symbolises the integration of Europe, to those who deny all European values."

The group includes seven French National Front MEPs, including Mr Gollnisch, who is awaiting a court verdict on charges of holocaust denial, three MEPs from the Belgian anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang and five Romanian MEPs from the xenophobic Greater Romania party.

Other political groups are planning to block them from getting positions of influence in the parliament and have already started talking about changing the rules for the next legislative term in the European Parliament, beginning in 2009, to make it harder to form groups.

They are also hoping that the ITS will have a similar fate to two previous far-right parties - The European Right (1984-89) and the Technical Group of the European Right (1989-94) which were sidelined and had little influence in the assembly.

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